Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A New Low

Picture this... You are walking through the airport and you suddenly encounter a cute little elderly couple getting verbally attacked by a person half their age. The silver-haired woman, in her jewel-toned wind suit and coordinating fanny pack, and the man, in his bifocals and hearing aids, are just standing there, completely befuddled. You would want to intervene on their behalf, wouldn't you? I know I certainly would... except there's only one minor problem. The person screaming at them uncontrollably is none other than me

Yep, that's how I left things the last time I saw my parents. What is wrong with me? Who yells at old people? 

There are issues that run so deep in my family (the family in which I am the daughter, not the one in which I am the wife/mother, thank God!). Issues that can take people down. We have my brother, who is about halfway through his stint at rehab as a stellar example, and my unhinged, slightly maniacal ass, as another. Why can't the skeletons emerge? Why can't they be discussed? Why can't I get any real, concrete answers or feelings or thoughts out of my parents?

And as horrible as this sounds, I still believe I am right. No, I take that back. I know I am right. But I am starting to realize that there won't be any convincing them of that, and even if that miracle were to happen, at what cost? Am I going to be demanding an apology when they are on their deathbeds? Am I going to continue to insist that they acknowledge my feelings, when there may come a day when they don't even know me? 

I guess my anger towards them has subsided enough to let the guilt creep in. I was really enjoying my indignant self-righteousness, staking my claim to that ever-so desirable real estate commonly known as the moral high ground. 

I have got to find a way to love them unconditionally, in spite of themselves. They've certainly done that small favor for me. 

35 comments:

Kristina P. said...

Deb, I can related to this more than you know. I went to therapy a few years ago, for a small anxiety issues surrounding my husband's dangerous job, and all these issues with my mom came up!

Jenn@ The Crazies said...

well Deb, as my relationship with my mom is wonderful and my relationship w/ my biological dad sounds similar to yours... I have to say I am thinking of you... one can only hope I am a better parent than my dad... more like my mom would be great!

Em said...

To unleash skeletons, to discuss the "issues," would be to admit they exist.

Some people just enjoy living in their rainbow-filled worlds, it's way easier that way. Then they wonder why you have to be the stick in the mud and won't play along (damn it!).

Maybe we should get our mothers together? May the most out of touch win!

stefanie said...

Poor girl. Growing up is so hard. When will we get there?

jori-o said...

oh, Deb! Despite the underlying tragedy of your post, you are still frickin' hilarious. Yeah, I said frickin'.

mama-face said...

Oh my gosh, your last lines totally got to me. (I still haven't called my mother for mother's day and today my brother is harassing me for other reasons...) I need to learn about that thing called unconditional love for sure. I've heard of it but I'm not sure it really exists.

on that happy note...

Beth said...

I am so sorry! Actually, my mother and I didn't get along for years. She was so judgmental and loved to stick her head in the sand about some issues in our past. Since I couldn't change her, I had to change me. Now I can act like nothing bad ever happened when I am around her. But I unload on my husband.

At least I get it off my chest.

I hope things get better for you guys.

Missy said...

I only wish I could yell or even speak loudly to my dad. We cannot even be in the same room together without the both of us crying for reasons we neither can voice. Therapy has helped me somewhat, but my dad will never agree that he needs therapy also! So, for now, we will just continue to cry instead of talking! Thanks for sharing!

Heather of the EO said...

Ugh, ugh, ugh...I KNOW.

And the only thing that gets me through sometimes is realizing that I get to change the generational direction, ever so slightly, with my own children.

My mom, for certain, will NEVER see things the way that I do. I can't DO anything about that. But sometimes I just HATE it. I want to stand there and be validated, recognized, SEEN....and I get...NOTHIN' So um...yeah, I get what you're saying. And I'm sorry.

Thank God you get to change the direction!

Soxy Deb said...

Not one of us has walked a mile in your shoes Deb. I can't know what your family life has been like for you, aside from what you tell us here.
And yet I'm torn. Torn between telling you that your an adult too and deserve to be treated with the same respect you show them and also telling you that you didn't show them any respect right then.
But as I said, what do I know from your life? Nothing.
One things for certain, if you feel badly about the situation, do something. I don't know what, but something, before it is indeed to late.
{{HUGS}} I'm thinking of you.


Oooh, that last line sounded kinda creepy.
I'm not peering in your windows, don't worry.

Under the Influence said...

I have a strained relationship, at times, with my parents. My parents don't even speak to one of my brothers - long story - and it has caused some friction with me and my dad since I do see and talk to my brother.

Of course, it all goes deeper than I could ever go into here, but I try to remember this "Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?" Yes, it's a Dr. Phil saying whom I don't normally quote, but it is one that resounds with me. Sometimes, I admit, I DO want to be right, and that's ok. Other times, I focus on the being happy. You just have to decide which is best for each situation.

Jenners said...

I'm so sorry. I've had my ups and downs with my parents -- mostly my mother -- and what I believe to be unacknowledged mental health issues within the family that should be dealt with openly but I am the one who is always put down as "the nag" "the pain" and told to shut up. It is hard but you just have to walk away, get some distance and let it be. In the end, people don't really change too much. You just have to accept them and deal with it the best you can.

Brenda Jean said...

Let's see, it took over 40 years for my parents and I to hug each other. We still don't acknowledge emotions for the most part. Family can be a big fat pain in the ass. I have no answers-- denial is my middle name. But I can offer you a shoulder to complain on:)

Tiaras and Tantrums said...

here's the thing here Deb - they are old and they will not change - NOT EVER - YOU are looking for something they are not capable of giving you! Partly b/c a) they are old b) it's easier and c) it's generational - they do not know any better.

YOU need to find peace for yourself . . . let it all go - seriously - just let it all go. It's not you - It is them!!

Wendyburd1 said...

You can love your parents, but sometimes you may not like them very much. It is sad when that happens, but sometimes it can't be helped. They AREN'T perfect as much as they may like to think they are. If you want to be in each others lives, you are gonna, sadly, have to take the bad crap with the good. Some parents I have read on blogs, they don't deserve these second and fiftieth chances their kids give them, but those are some amazing kids I say.

Lee of MWOB said...

Oh Deb. What's up girlfriend? It's a never-ending whirling of stuff I think. Too much big stuff that you and your parents will most likely never see eye to eye about. You know? Your heart is different than theirs....it just is.

The emotional power of parents though....never ceases to blow my mind.

Chat soon.

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

All I can do is send BIG HUGZ your way...

Tony@ That One Paticular Harbor said...

Life can be so complicated. I feel you Deb. I do. All the best your way.

Ginger said...

I feel your pain. I went through some bad feelings when my parents were alive. I actually hated my mom for awhile, probably my dad too. My anger really spoiled the last days of the time I had left with my mom. Now they are both gone and I feel so guilty and I wish I could just go back one day with them and apologize.

angie said...

That unconditional love business is hard. I'm pretty sure that it works easiest when it's YOUR kids that need the unconditional love. Hugs!

Sweet Annabelle said...

I feel it - and have done that, too. Thanks for posting truth - family relationships are TOUGH!

Beadiful Things said...

The older I get, the more cracks in the facade of what I once thought was a normal family appear. It sucks, doesn't it? But it also gives me leave to (try to) forgive myself for my many flaws that I inflict on my own family. If it helps, and I know it doesn't, it just plain doesn't, we're all just doing our best.

Debbie said...

I have been standing right where you are many times in my life. It is important to let the anger go - but it isn't easy!

Mary@Holy Mackerel said...

Oh boy. Been there, done that. The skeletons don't get discussed, and that is why the problems continue to exist, and the guilt seethes underneath the surface, just waiting for the right moment to pop out again and bare its teeth...

Kiki (G.G.) said...

I can relate to your post. I also have a Lovely Blog Award for you at my blog The Babble Bubble. Take care.
-Kiki

Karen MEG said...

Wow,what a post. The thing about being someone's kid, is that you're ALWAYS someone's kid, and no matter how old you get, you're still their kid. Does that make sense? The dynamic rarely changes, unfortunately. Everyone has these skeletons, and the older generation are the best at concealing them.

I'm sorry that I had to chuckle a bit at how you told your story, you are a hilarious writer.

But I do hope you do get to a place where you can be more at peace with them and the way they are (as it sounds like you want to, at the end of your post).

Straight to Your Hart said...

It's all apart of the grieving process. Unfortunately, growing up with these people in our lives daily makes us grieve for a VERY long time..(nervous laugh).

I have these moments in my head where I am speaking my mind to them and feel so good and then...I get a phone call from Mom! WTH?

I have been to therapy for it and there came a time when I put in action all I was learning...I stopped talking to them for months. Yes, it was very refreshing sad to say. However, I also knew there would be communication again. No apologizing (which I was looking for, in my head of course) but I knew that her phone call was her own way of showing it.

Guilt is a good thing...it reminds me to be humble. I am grateful to read this, this morning. I thought I was alone in having anxiety issues with parents. Had one (issue) this weekend and need the grieving process to kick in so the anger will drain out of my system. Ah the cycle continues. Must be Love:0) Hugs to you!

joanne said...

We have all be in situations that we wish we could change... but for reasons so deeply ingrained, we can't. At least you can recognize that you want to work on this - most people just consider it their "norm".

Good luck!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

Getting away from a screwed up family is one reason I stayed here in Hawaii. Nothing says distance like 2,00 miles of ocean and expensive plane tickets.

dana said...

Here's the thing: why is it always the mother??? You would not believe some of the things my mom did and it was only through INTENSE therapy that I found out from the sessions just how demented and screwed up she was. And I followed in her footsteps until I knew better. I hated her for so many years, (with GOOD reason) and now I'm sure MY daughter has her own grievances against ME. Round and round and round.

Sera said...

Hey Deb, I'm so sorry! It sounds like plenty has happened to certainly justify why you feel the way you do. You just want answers, and you're not getting them. I'm just so sorry that things are the way they are right now. Big hugs to ya. :)

TrishH said...

I can totally understand what you are going through. My family sounds like it has similar issues to yours. I am having issues with my parents at this time and just realized that I do not have to accept their dysfunction in my life anymore. I had to as a child because I had no choice but as a grown adult with children of her own I do not have to. I love them and always will but choose to keep their issues out of my life. I am cordial to them and talk to them when around them but somehow found a way to keep their drama out of my life. I just shut the door on that...I hope everything works out for you and you get over the guilt...it should not be yours..

Harlene said...

This one needs more than just some "Sonic", we could use a weekend at the beach to discuss.

It is so dang hard to learn to forgive our parents for being who they are. Especially when you are so good to your own kids, why can't they be? It took me years to forgive my parents for who they are, and a few more grieving for the parents I wish I had. I felt so cheated, you know? I always had to be the grown up in the mix, and then I decided not to be. When my mom would threaten to take off and live in her car, I would simply reply, "Let us know where your parked." When she pulls out the suicide card, I say, "I'd hate for you to miss out out on the rest of your life with the Grandkids, but do what ever you feel is best." My Mom lives with me, remember? I've had to learn she can only offer 10-15% pf what others mom's do, so I only expect that much. I'm not mad about it anymore, just tired sometimes. She can drive ya crazy!

Don't beat yourself up over it. You had too much in your bucket and it spilled out, it happens. the difference is you care enough To revisit it and try to be a grown up. They can't, for whatever reason, they can't. I've explained it to my kids that it's like my mom is color blind. No matter how many times I tell her the stop sign is red, she CAN"T see it that way, so I don't tell her anymore. Some people are that way with relationships. It's like a disability or a virus, they really can't control. Won't control, has the same results as can't control, so it's not worth being mad about that either.

I'm having a big bowl of ice cream and sending a big batch of "cope" your way.

Em said...

Thinking of you.

Kati said...

Hey! I just wanted to give you a shout out... because you were the very 1st person to ever comment on my blog. I will be linking to your blog at my blogoversary on June 18th. Thanks!!!